Malwarebytes Antivirus Review 2024: Is It Worth the Hype?

Malwarebytes is a user-friendly antivirus option, but does it have everything you need? Find out if this popular program is right for you.
4.6
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Malwarebytes's website

Antivirus Software
Malwarebytes
  • Free version includes manual scans to identify and remove malware, ransomware, and other threats
  • Premium features include a VPN, ad blocker, identity theft services, and more
  • High starting price point for paid plans
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Malwarebytes is good antivirus software that takes minimal effort to learn and use. It has a free antivirus plan with a virus scanner and malware removal tools if you're on a budget.

If you want more than standard computer virus protection, you can upgrade to the Malwarebytes Premium plan or the Premium + Privacy plan for extra features. Premium offers additional features, like a virtual private network (VPN) and a web security browser that blocks phishing attempts, trackers, pop-up ads, and other exploits.

Malwarebytes lets you try the Premium versions for free for 14 days and you get a 60-day money-back guarantee. Learn more about pricing plans, features, third-party test results and more in our Malwarebytes review.

4.6
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Malwarebytes's website
Antivirus Software
Malwarebytes
  • Free version includes manual scans to identify and remove malware, ransomware, and other threats
  • Premium features include a VPN, ad blocker, identity theft services, and more
  • High starting price point for paid plans

In this article
Malwarebytes antivirus overview
Who is Malwarebytes best for?
Malwarebytes cost
Malwarebytes Premium features
Malwarebytes test results
Our Malwarebytes Premium experience
Malwarebytes compatibility
Malwarebytes customer support
Malwarebytes alternatives
Malwarebytes FAQs
Bottom line: Is Malwarebytes good?

Malwarebytes antivirus overview

Price $44.99–$99.99/yr
Free plan Yes
# of devices protected 1-20 for the paid versions, 1 for free
Malware scans Free version: Manual scans only
Premium version: Manual and scheduled scans
Firewall No
Phishing protection Yes
Details Get Malwarebytes

All About Cookies Rating
4.6
Editorial Rating
“We found Malwarebytes to be a good all-around antivirus when you want a no-frills program with high scores in virus detection.

But if you’re a Mac user and want more than a quick scan option, you should look elsewhere. (Currently, Malwarebytes doesn’t offer a full scan feature for macOS.) It’s also missing some basics, like a firewall, so we recommend using Malwarebytes along with another antivirus software like Windows Defender.”

Who is Malwarebytes best for?

  • Recommend for people who want a solid antivirus program with a few bonus features at an affordable price.

If you want to protect your device but don’t want to spend a fortune on extras you may not need, Malwarebytes may have the right level of security you’re looking to get. While it may not have all the bells and whistles that an antivirus program like Norton claims to have, Malwarebytes does have a regularly updated database. That gives you more security because it can catch the latest malware threats.

When you get Malwarebytes, you can opt for the free version, which comes with the basic on-demand scanning feature, or the paid plans, which gives you ongoing threat protection. Because even the paid plans start at $44.99/yr, we think Malwarebytes is a good choice if you want some peace of mind without paying a fortune.

Malwarebytes pros and cons

Pros
  • Offers a free version with manual scans
  • Works alongside other antivirus programs
  • Free browser extension blocks ads, trackers, and malware
Cons
  • No integrated firewall
  • No full scan option with Apple products

Malwarebytes cost

You can get the free version of Malwarebytes if all you want is on-demand scanning and virus removal. When you need other features, such as scheduled scans and real-time protection, you should opt for Malwarebytes Standard or Malwarebytes Plus. The Malwarebytes Plus plans also come with the Privacy VPN.

Premium plans for one device start at $44.99/yr, and go up to $99.99/yr. Other antivirus systems such as Norton Antivirus cost about the same.

You can get cheaper options, though. Bitdefender has a yearly plan for $29.99/first yr. Still, we think getting Malwarebytes is worth the minimal cost when considering how fast the scans run.

Malwarebytes plans and prices

Malwarebytes Free Malwarebytes Standard Malwarebytes Plus
Price per month Free $59.99/yr $99.99/yr
# devices supported 1 1–20 1-20
Manual and auto scan Manual only Manual and auto scan Manual and auto scan
Ransomware protection
Phishing protection
Real-time protection
Ad blocker
VPN
Details View Plan View Plan View Plan

Malwarebytes offers a 14-day trial at no cost, plus a 60-day money-back guarantee so you have plenty of time to try it out.

Malwarebytes Premium features

When we did our testing, one of the first things we noticed was that the scanning process only took seconds to complete. We ran it several more times to be sure there were no issues, and every time it scanned more than 45,000 files in less than five seconds.

You get faster scans if you set the CPU usage to High. You can change the selection to Medium or Low if you’re not concerned with how fast the scan runs.

If you keep the CPU usage setting turned to High, it could affect your system performance, so you’ll want to keep that in mind. We tried the different options and only noticed a slight increase in scan time to nine seconds when changing the CPU usage to Low.

Malwarebytes lets you adjust how much CPU power you use when you perform a system scan. Higher CPU usage means faster scans but could slow down your device.

One feature we did find lacking is the inability to run a full scan on Mac devices. It appears that only quick scans are available on these, whereas Windows machines have the option to run full scans.

That explains why it ran the scans on our test device in record time. If you want the full scanning capability and use an Apple product, you’re out of luck with Malwarebytes.

Mac users are often slighted when it comes to antivirus software, but that doesn't mean there are no products that cater to Apple users. Read our guide on the best antivirus for Mac for more options.

Malware and antivirus scan

Both Malwarebytes Free and Malwarebytes Premium versions allows you to run manual anti-malware scans. But if you want automatic scanning, you’ll need to spring for the Premium edition.

The Scheduled Scans feature is highly customizable and offers hourly, daily, and weekly scans. You can even set it to scan every other day if you like.

Malwarebytes has lots of options when it comes to scheduling your automatic scans, including every day, every week, and every 6 hours.

Even though we only had the Quick Scan option (since we tested on a Mac), we were impressed by how fast the scan performed. When we put the CPU usage to the Low setting, it still scanned in less than 10 seconds, with minimal burden on our device.

Phishing protection

Malwarebytes Premium offers phishing protection, but the free version is for regular clean-up functions missed by other antivirus software.

On the Malwarebytes website, it mentions that the Premium version warns you when visiting malicious or fraudulent websites that could contain phishing scams. When testing the product, we found no specific setting to turn on for anti-phishing. It appears that this is an automatic feature with the Malwarebytes Premium edition.

Real-time protection

Malwarebytes Premium does come with real-time protection, which covers four protection layers:

  • Web protection: Protection from online scams, phishing sites, and ransomware sites
  • Malware and PUP protection: Protection from malware, viruses, adware, potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), and other cyberthreats
  • Ransomware protection: Protection from ransomware, which locks you out of your device and files
  • Exploit protection: Protection from malware that usesbugs and vulnerabilities in a system for hacking

The Real-Time Protection feature is simple to use. You go to the Malwarebytes dashboard and select the “On” option beside Malware protection and App block.

Turning Malwarebytes' real-time protection on is easy: Just toggle it on when in the main dashboard.
Toggle-on Malwarebytes real-time protection 

Once you get these settings toggled to “On,” you have the Real-time Protection feature running until you turn it off.

Ransomware protection

Ransomware protection is included in Malwarebytes Premium. It’s simple to use, because once you install the Malwarebytes software, it searches for ransomware while you scan for viruses, Trojans, and other malware.

As with viruses and malware, if ransomware threats are found, you’ll receive a report asking if you want to remove them. Once you confirm you want to remove the threats, Malwarebytes will clean it up and restore your privacy to the previous security.

In our testing, we found the ransomware protection feature easy to use, as it was like running the regular virus scan. It still only took a matter of seconds, and we were notified with a report that no items were detected.

Our Malwarebytes scan found no viruses, malware, ransomware, or potentially unwanted programs (PUPs).

Browser Guard

Browser Guard is a free browser extension that helps protect against pop-up ads, phishing sites, and online trackers.

It works without you noticing and won’t notify you unless an entire website is blocked. If the Browser Guard extension suspects you’re accessing a website that may contain malware or malicious software links, it could completely block the use of the website.

You can currently download the Browser Guard extension for numerous browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. If you use Safari, you can download the extension from the Apple App Store.

Browser Guard lets adjust the level of protection for the websites you visit. The extension has selections for:

  • Ad/trackers
  • Malware
  • Scams
  • PUPs

You can move the toggles to change any of these settings to your desired preferences.

Malwarebytes' Browser Guard feature blocks ads, trackers, malware, scams, and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) on any website you visit.

We liked the ability to have added protection against different online threats. Downloading the extension was seamless, and using it is as easy as clicking on an icon.

Browser Guard shows you if there is anything to block on the websites you visit, so you’re always informed. Here is a random website we visited to show you the number of issues it found. The results may surprise you.

Our Malwarebytes Browser Guard blocked 48 total threats from the PC World website.

With all the features selected, the Malwarebytes Browser Guard found a total of 48 issues that might need to be blocked. None seemed harmful, but it was good to note.

Bonus features

Because Malwarebytes is a lower-cost option when it comes to antivirus programs, there aren’t a lot of extra bells and whistles available. But you can opt for the Malwarebytes Plus plan that comes with the Malwarebytes' VPN

With the Privacy VPN, you'll have Wi-Fi security to protect your IP address and other sensitive information. It provides servers in over 40 countries and its available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.

Malwarebytes test results

Third-party test sites such as AV-Comparatives check security products against real-world scenarios to challenge them with threats. This testing gives products a chance to demonstrate their protection features and other components they offer.

Malwarebytes AV-Comparatives test results

Test type Score Platform Test date
Mobile security 99.3% Android May 2022
Real-world protection 99.0% Windows Jul-Oct 2022
Malware protection 99.81% Windows Sep 2022
Performance 85 Windows Oct2022

We were pleased overall with Malwarebytes's AV-Comparatives test results. Mobile security and real-world protection both scored high, with close to 100% of the issues being blocked. The malware protection feature also clocked in at 99.81%.

The performance score was a little on the low end, at 85. It seems Malwarebytes Premium has a bit of an impact on system performance when it comes to launching applications compared with other tested products. Out of three bars, it only scored two bars with both the first and second run of launching applications. That’s an indication that the program was slow to open each time.

Our Malwarebytes Premium experience

Our Malwarebytes Premium experience was a pleasant journey with an easy-to-use interface and fast scanning capability. We ran multiple virus scans, with the longest one clocking in at 11 seconds and scanning almost 54,000 files.

Our Malwarebytes completed an antivirus scan of 54,000 items in 11 seconds. (It detected no threats.)

We were disappointed that you can only use the full scan option on a PC or Windows machine. If you’re a Mac user, you only have the quick scan option.

That may not be a big deal if you want antivirus software that can breeze through your files quickly, letting you get back to business as usual. It won’t hog your system resources, as displayed in our numerous scans.

None of the scans detected any viruses on our device. It’s worth noting that we were using a Macbook Air M1 with the Big Sur operating system.

Is Malwarebytes good for Mac?
Malwarebytes is a good system for Mac, unless you want the full scan feature and third-party testing data. Malwarebytes appears to be aimed more for PCs than Macs, but that doesn’t mean you can't use it if you’re an Apple fan.

Malwarebytes Premium also has scanning reports where you can view the history up to the last 30 days. It’ll show you the type of scans run, the date of the scans, and if the program found any malicious files. You can see if those files were quarantined or ignored.

Malwarebytes has a scan history list so you can see the results of every scan you ran in the past 30 days, including the date and time it was run.
Malwarebytes scan history list

The Detection History feature is one we liked because you can get a more in-depth view of the scanning history and how many threats were found. It also shows when the software received an update, which we think is a nice feature. More updates mean you get more protection against the latest malware.

Malwarebytes compatibility

You won’t have trouble finding a system or device that’s compatible with Malwarebytes. You can also use it with another antivirus software, which could be a bonus if you’re being extra cautious about online security. You also get access to its advanced antivirus protection with the Browser Guard extension.

You can use Malwarebytes Premium on any of these devices and platforms:

  • Microsoft Windows
  • macOS
  • Chromebook
  • Android
  • iOS (iPhone, iPad)

Does Malwarebytes work with Windows Defender?
Your Malwarebytes software and Windows Defender (also known as Microsoft Defender) should pair well together, as each one looks for slightly different types of adware, spyware, rootkits, and other malware in their threat scans.

Malwarebytes customer support

Malwarebytes has a support page with different options you may be having issues with, such as billing, installing, adding devices, and requesting a refund. There is also a chat function you can use to ask questions and get automated answers.

This may not be the best option if you have questions that can’t be answered using a knowledge base. We did find this feature a little lacking as we weren’t taken to a chat with a live agent. But once we signed in to our account page, we were again taken to a chatbot where we could fill out a question form and wait for a return email.

Malwarebytes has a chat bot that's available 24/7. If the chat bot doesn't help, you can fill out a form and wait for an email response.

If you need more detailed help, you can go to your account page. You’ll be prompted to sign in to your account with your email and password.

We didn't find a way to contact an agent directly through the chat service, and that would’ve been a valuable option. Still, there are plenty of things you can do from the basic support page that may help get you where you need to be.

Malwarebytes alternatives

Malwarebytes has its strengths, like top third-party test scores and great price, but its not without its weaknesses. If Malwarebytes has some deal breakers, we suggest you consider one of these options instead: 

  • TotalAV: TotalAV is a great option if your priority is user-friendliness and budget-friendliness. It even offers a free antivirus plan, so you can test it out for as long as you like.

    Get TotalAV | Read Our TotalAV Review

  • Norton: If you're looking for a security suite, Norton is one of the best options on the market. You can pick from a number of plans that include a VPN, password manager, parental controls, and even LifeLock identity theft protection. See how Malwarebytes compares in our Norton vs. Malwarebytes review

    Get Norton 360 | Read Our Norton 360 Review

  • CleanMyMacX: For the more Apple-inclined readers, CleanMyMacX was made for you. It comes with a malware removal tool, device optimization tools, a file shredder, and more, all available for your Mac.

    Get CleanMyMacX | Read Our CleanMyMacX Review

Malwarebytes FAQs


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Is Malwarebytes trustworthy?

Malwarebytes is a trustworthy antivirus program. With the Premium version, you get real-time protection against online threats, malware, and a browser extension for additional security.


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Is Malwarebytes better than McAfee?

Malwarebytes is not better than McAfee if you’re looking for a more robust antivirus that offers a firewall, password manager, and network scanner. But if you want something simple with ease of use every time, Malwarebytes is a top contender.


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Is Malwarebytes better than AVG?

Malwarebytes is better than AVG if you’re looking for cheaper anti-malware protection and don’t need extra features such as Wi-Fi security or a firewall. That said, if you do need additional security features, AVG may be worth the extra cost.

Find out more about AVG and its robust security suite in our review.


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Do I need an antivirus if I have Malwarebytes?

You should consider using an additional antivirus if you have Malwarebytes because it works well with other programs. You’ll get extra security coverage without bogging down more resources from Malwarebytes.

Bottom line: Is Malwarebytes good?

From our viewpoint, we found Malwarebytes to be a good all-around antivirus when you want a no-frills program to give you some online peace of mind. With Malwarebytes Premium, you get extras such as scheduled scans and a VPN.

Overall, Malwarebytes is a trusted antivirus that’s good for the average online user. When you want something that won’t take much time and focuses on removing malware and other online threats, Malwarebytes may be a perfect choice. With high scores in virus detection, you can rest easy knowing your device is protected from numerous online threats.

If you’re a Mac user and want more than a quick scan option, you should look elsewhere. Currently, Malwarebytes doesn’t offer a full scan feature for macOS. You also won’t get a firewall with this software on Mac or Windows, which could be a deal breaker depending on your security needs.

If you’re looking for antivirus and web protection that offers more cybersecurity features, check out our list of the best antivirus software for more options.

4.6
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Malwarebytes's website
Antivirus Software
Malwarebytes
  • Free version includes manual scans to identify and remove malware, ransomware, and other threats
  • Premium features include a VPN, ad blocker, identity theft services, and more
  • High starting price point for paid plans
Author Details
Patti Croft is a seasoned writer specializing in technology, with three years of experience. With a B.S. in Computer Science and a background as a technical analyst and security specialist, she covers a range of topics like data security and parental control software.

Citations

[1] AV-Comparatives Performance Test April 2022

[2] AV-TEST Product Review and Certification Report — May–Jun/2022